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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 31, 2016 9:25pm-10:01pm EDT

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the court. with bader ginsburg and her confirmation hearings said a can offer no forecast, it would display disdain for the entire judiciary process. confirmation, justice ginsburg stood firm. she went on to say judge robert was unquestionably right. was i will not answer a question that attempts to project how i will rule on a case that might come before the court. he is going to be our chief justice for a long time it appears. nominees and judges
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learn from his understanding of the constitution and will senators learn from this testimony that there are proper and improper inquiries of judicial nominees? we are about to find out quite quickly. toeady, the senate is ready take up the harriet miers nomination in just a few weeks. already, some senators on both sides of the oil are -- i'll are eager to determine her personal views. i would be satisfied to learn a wise approach to our democracy. i want to thank you for having me be with you today. let the judges i have spoken sure ii have -- i am will be followed by many scholars more distinguished than somef and while i am sure
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of you have disagreed with what i have to say and i'm sure i will hear these in a few minutes, i do know to my many years of service as a senator. thank you so much. great to be with you. [applause] >> the next two speeches in our supreme court special include minority leader harry reid defending the use of the filibuster and saying the senator -- the senate has no obligationnal o
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to vote on the nominee. and by mitch mcconnell, saying democrats should confirm her more bush nominees before the president leaves office. here we have two speeches that seems somewhat at odds with what those leaders are saying today. what was different back then and what does this tell us about the process? >> what was different is quite simple was that each of these minority and majority in front of their title. dramatic ist so what it shows is in the last 30 , which was where these clips began, ideology has become important and divided government
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-- each judicial confirmation war will be fought to the death. when senatorpeech reid is speaking, this is at a time when the republican from tennessee, the majority leader, was threatening the nuclear option, which was a parliamentary maneuver to take away the right of the minority to filibuster judges. senator reid was opposed to that. several years later, it was senator reid who engineered the exact same nuclear option he fought so hard against. in the 2005 case, the nuclear option was diffused at the last fromt when seven senators each party can together and said we will refuse to join filibusters of judges from so long as they are perceived as in the mainstream. that held together from the a
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few years and by the time president obama came to power and harry reid had the chance -- was frustrated by obama's inability to get judges on the secondary court, the court of appeals >> let's take a look at those two speeches. i want to remind you that all of the video we are showing you on the supreme court special is available on here are the speeches from harry reid and mitch mcconnell. >> i have addressed the senate on several occasions, setting the record straight on senate history and the rules. frankly, i would much rather address wage to cut health care costs, bring down gas prices, talk about education, the spiraling deficit we have, but the majority leaders decided we will spend this week and next week or at least part of next week talking about judges in the mainstream.
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jurisprudence. i am happy to engage in this debate that i would rather not. i do want to debate to be accurate. for example, my good friend, the distinguished republican leader issued a statement last friday which he called the phyllis buster -- filibuster procedural gimmick. record what the word "gimmick" means. the dictionary defines it as a new scheme. i indicated it filibuster was everything but that. it is not a gimmick, it is part of our nations history for two centuries. -- vital of the file checks and balances established by our visionary founding fathers. it is not a gimmick. also, some republicans have improperlye stated
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the use of the filibuster. they have said time and time defeat of ahe handful of president bush's nominees is on president. there have been hundreds of judicial nominees in american history that have been rejected by the senate, any by filibuster. been most notable, denomination of eight fortis -- filibuster in 1968. post" ishe "washington the same byline from many, many years ago. the first sentence, a full led republican. filibuster broke out for the chief justice of united states.
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" we have had filibusters. that is what has been disappointing to me with some of my colleagues saying there have not been filibusters. there has been. during the clinton administration more than 60 judicial nominees were bottled up and never received votes. of course, as indicated by my distinguished friend, the republican leader, during that time democrats are complaining about what was going on, saying there should have been hearings in the senate, and even came to the floor and the majority leader said, let's have some votes. let's have some votes on these people. mr. president, we never said we would break the rules to change rules. to change the rules in the senate cannot be done by a simple majority. it can only be done if there is extended debate or 67 votes.
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say that thell statements made by republican leaders are wrong about the votes, and we were disturbed that they were not votes. we never ever suggested that rules should be broken. in addition to the so-called "pocket filibusters" called them when everyone, the 69 nominations, never made it out of the russell building, the judiciary committee. in addition to those engageances, republicans in explicit filibusters on the floor against a number of clinton judges when they did get out and they defeated a number of the executive branch nominees by filibuster. it is the same advice and consent. that is why a republican filibuster, henry foster said it was unconstitutional. filibuster for the
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fifth circuit, unconstitutional. why would the same not apply? the republican argument does not add up. i would say this to my friend, the per citing officer -- presiding officer. i have said, let's not dwell on what went on in the clinton administration, the four years that president bush has been president, i am sure there is plenty of blame to go around as we look back, i am not sure and it is difficult to say this, but i say it, i'm not sure either was handled properly. i know it was not the right thing to simply bury 69 nominations and in hindsight may be we could have done these differently. tired ofcan people are what we're doing. they are tired of the constant fighting going on. ift is going to take place
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this continues? we will have a vote sometime next week. it will be a close vote of course as we only need six republicans. ispresiding officer that it former chairman of the appropriations committee, it is very difficult to get bills passed. things will not work as well as they could have. we need to avoid this. we are all legislators. now, the president of united states has become the latest to rewrite the constitution and reinvent reality. republicans on tuesday night, two days ago, he said the senate has a duty to consider each nominee on the senate floor, discuss and debate their qualifications and get them a upper down vote. everyone of the 10 he has spoken
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of has had a vote. every one of them. right here in the senate floor, between these tables, their name was called and they voted. right who see within the reach the destruction of american mainstream values, duty through the american constitution and for the american people that are waiting for progress, progress not partisanship and heady debates. --petty debates. nowhere in the constitution does it say the senate needs to give nominees a vote. it says appointments should be made with the advice and appointment of the senate. all of these about which we are vote rightas had a here.
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the fact was even acknowledged that a vote is not required by the majority leader. hereajority leader was last week. he asked the majority leader if the constitution required each nominee an up-and-down vote in the answer is no. he was candid. the language is not there, that is what the jenin said. he is correct. the present -- that is what the gentleman said. he is correct. it is clear that the president misunderstands the meaning of the advice of the consent clause. the word advice means consulting. as a result of this consulting, bill clinton brought with better ginsburg. ginsburg.der
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the senate is not a rubber stamp for the executive branch. we are the one institution where the minority has a voice in the minority can check the power of the majority. in the face of president bush's power grab, it is more important than ever. republicans want one-party rule and this is the last place where they cannot have it all. now president bush wants to destroy the check and balances to make sure he does get it all. every senator can stand on behalf of the people who have sent them there and say their piece. in the senate's 200 plus year of history this has been done hundreds and hundreds of times, standing up to popular presidents, unpopular presidents, presidents arrogant with power, blocked legislation. in the eyes of the senator and yes, even to reject presidential nominations, even judicial nominations.
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mcconnell: this is the one year anniversary for the circuit judge. processnee and judicial is unhealthy and we said this congress would be different. the los angeles times in the washington post acknowledged the president did his part to get the process off to a good start back at the beginning of this. they and many others complemented his good faith at not resubmitting circuit court nominees though some of our democratic colleagues did not like. the majority leader himself said how much he appreciated the president's good faith. he said, i personally want the record to reflect that i appreciate the president not send it back for names that were really controversial. the majority leader said he and his colleagues have an obligation to reciprocate and
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treat circuit court nominees fairly. he said, i think we need to reciprocate in a way that is appropriate and we are going to try to do that by looking at the nominees as quickly as we can. is, have the democrats treated these nominees fairly? have they, in fact, reciprocated? let's look at the facts. this president, in his final two years of office and the senate democrats hope to recapture the white house. obviously, there is a partisan incentive not to confirm his judicial nominees. president's --t this has been a presidents human nature. the situation is not it. firstecon ush is not
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or the last. historical fairness confirming nominees. we agree that the senate should meet this standard. the average number of circuit court nominations is 17 in this situation. president clinton had 15. the senate has confirmed only 10 circuit court nominees. what happened? unfortunately, old habits are opinionbreak, and in my democrats on the judiciary academy this committee found it hard not to play politics. the judge was a distinguished state court judge and a iraq war veteran. he was someone whom committee democrats had already approved unanimously for the district ofrt, so at the beginning
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this congress when the president tried it yet again to fill a fth circuit,he fi he did not resubmitting nominee that the democrats oppose, and submitted someone they already approved. how did the democrats respond? did ane exception, they total about-face and try to filibuster the judge's nomination. unfortunately, the consensus nominee who became "controversial." the senate has already approved the judge in north carolina not once but twice. first is the chief federal law enforcement officer in north carolina and then to a lifetime position. on the federal district court. in addition, the aviator gave judge conran a high rating and
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janet reno called him an excellent prosecutor and said she was impressed with his judgment and his knowledge of the law. again, to resolve a dispute over a fourth circuit see, president bush did not reissue a nominee senate democrats oppose. he nominated someone who they already approved, judge robert conrad. guess what has happened? nothing has happened. as of today, judge conrad has been sitting in the committee for 365 days, one full year without a hearing even though he meets all of the chairman's criteria, has the highest possible aba rating, strong home state support and was still a judicial emergency. what is the result of all of that? while judge conrad waits in the
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committee, the circuit court is over 25% vacant. over one fourth of its seats are empty. it's chief judge states that to keep up with its work, court must rely heavily on district court judges, and it is robbing peter to pay paul. sayses without saying she that having to use visiting judges puts a strain on our circuit and in particular, it forces the circuit's district judges to perform double duty. the situation on the fourth circuit is so bad that the aba has made the crisis in its lead story. it's most recent addition of its professional turmoil on the cover page. the majority leader comes to the floor this morning and says judges are not important. no one cares about them. given the crisis of the fourth is highlighting
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it and i cannot imagine he would suggest such a thing. i am sure did millions of citizens think that having their court over 25% vacant does not matter. i am sure they care very much about that but evidently that is what the majority leader of believes and apparently he is not the only one in his congress who feels that way. the committee refuses to move judge conrad's nomination or any other pending fourth circuit nomination. the democrats do not approve rosenstein's nomination because he is doing too good of a job as u.s. attorney. rationale interesting for not moving someone. we have another fourth circuit nominee, judge glen conrad from virginia. he is a federal district court judge whom the senate confirmed
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to the trial bench without any controversy. he has the support of both of his home state senators, one democrat and one republican. after he was nominated, the chairman said he would move them as long as it was time to do so. havefically he stated, i already said that once the paperwork on president bush's nomination on a judge glen conrad, if there is sufficient time i hope to move his termination. well, the chairman's conditions are met with respect to judge glen conrad's nomination. his paperwork has been ready for one month. 17th.only july the last time i looked, there were 12 months in a year. 17, clearly we have time to confirm him. yet, we have no access on this nomination. democraticnt, our colleagues talk about the for --eral -- confirm it rule
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confirment rule. i do not think this exist. it has been research thoroughly and there is no such role. this is just an excuse for our colleagues to run out the clock on qualified nominees who are waiting to fill needed vacancies. party is without blame in the confirmation process, but what is going on now or accurately, what is not going on is yet another step backwards in politicizing the process we had all hoped we would get beyond. the american people, especially those in the five states that make up the fourth circuit who are suffering the consequences, and i am sorry the majority leader does not think that matters. i yield the floor.
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>> we have seen over the last couple of hours, the whole confirmation process, supreme court confirmation process, very partisan back-and-forth on the issue. what is your thought, your predictions for the merrick garland nomination and the process going forward? how do you see the next administration faring in the senate as well? >> i think the guy has been cast pretty solidly on judge garland. said, noonnell has way, no how will the republican senate so long as he is in charge have a hearing on merrick garland or vote on merrick garland. at one point, there seemed briefly to be the sense that not had talked about doing it before the presidential election and then there was a brief rhetorical window where he said, maybe after the election if we lose the election, we would be happy to see merrick
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garland on the supreme court and out mitch mcconnell says no way on that. he is a practical man. more practical than ideological, and yet for whatever reason he concludes that going back on his very predictions is in his party's s political interest and things maybe change. i do not think that is likely. in the next administration will all depend on whether we have at present of one party in the senate of the other or if they are aligned. one thing you are reminded of, cannot help be reminded of when , it isch this footage always the senators and presidents on the political losing end of debate that say let's reform ourselves, let's behave better in the future and it is always the folks on the winning side that use the power levers that has been developed over the last 30 years. >> david hawkins, we appreciate you speaking with us and we
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enjoy reading your book and her blog. i do so much. we will wrap up your with a couple comments by then senator barack obama on supreme court nominations in 2005 with his thoughts on how the white house on to handle -- onto to handle a supreme court nomination in the future. obama: let me congratulate the senators for moving the process, confirming the nomination of judge roberts along with such civility. disability that speaks well of the senate. civility that speaks well of the senate. i remain distressed that the white house, during this confirmation process, which overall went smoothly failed to provide critical documents as part of the record that could
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have provided us with a better basis to make our judgment with respect to the nomination. this white house continues to stymie efforts on part of the senate to do its job. i would hope that with the next nominee that comes up for the supreme court that the white house recognizes that in fact its duty, not just to the senate that to the american people is to make sure we can thoroughly and adequately evaluate the record of every single nominee that comes before us. having said that, the decision with respect to judge roberts' nomination has not been easy for me to make. a member of the university of chicago but have
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argued in appellate courts and taught courses in constitutional law. part of the culture of university of chicago law school faculty is to maintain a sense of collegiality with people who hold different views. what engenders respect is the intellectual rigor and honesty of which he or she arrives at a decision. given that background, i am sorely tempted to vote for judge roberts based on my studies of his resume, his conduct during the hearing and a conversation that i had with him yesterday afternoon. there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that judge roberts is qualified to serve on the highest court in the land. moreover, he seems to have the temperament that makes for a good judge.
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decent,mble, personally and he appears to be respectful of different points of view. that is absolutely clear that judge roberts truly loves the law. he could not have achieved his excellent record, as an advocate for the supreme court without that passion for the law. it became apparent to me in our conversation that he does in fact deeply respect the basic precept that go into deciding 95% of the cases that, before the federal courts. a certain modesty in reading statutes and constitutional text, a respect for procedural regularity and in impartiality in presiding over our adversarial system. all of these characteristics make me want to vote for judge roberts. face, them that i
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problem that has been voiced by my other colleagues, both those who are voting for mr. roberts and those who are voting against mr. roberts is that while adherents to legal precedents and rules will dispose of 95% of the cases that come before the scalia andthat both a ginsburg will arrive at the same place most of the time on those 95% of the cases, what matters on the supreme court are the 5% of cases that are truly difficult. in those cases, adherence to precedents and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. that last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's
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deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspective on how the world works and the depth and breath of one's empathy. those 5% of really hard cases, the constitutional texts will not be directly on point. the language of a statute will not be perfect late clear. legal process alone will not lead you to a rule or decision. in those circumstances, your decisions about whether action is appropriate to the history of discrimination in this country or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to ortrol the reproduction, whether the commerce clause empowers congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may only relate to
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what is easily defined as inner-state- commerce. in those difficult cases the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's part. heart. i spoke to judge roberts about this, and he confessed it is not easy for him to talk about his values and his deeper feelings, that is not how he is trained. he did say that he does not like bullies, and has always viewed the law as evening out the playing field between the strong and the weak. i was impressed with that statement because i view the law and much the same way.
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the problem i had is that when i recorded judge roberts' and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the waeak. in his work in the white house he seems to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process. he seemed dismissive of the concern that every woman knows it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a woman rather than a man. take judge roberts at his word, that he does not like
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bullies and he sees the law and the court as a means of evening to playing field between the strong and the weak. given the gravity of the position he will undoubtedly assess, the gravity of the decisions he will undoubtedly participate in during his tenure on the court, i ultimately have to give more weight to his deeds and the overarching political philosophy that he appears to have shared with those in power then to the assuring words that he provided me an hour meeting. the bottom line is this, i will be voting against his nomination. i do so with considerable reticence. i hope that i am wrong. i hope that this reticence on my part proves unjustified and that judge roberts will show himself to not only be an outstanding legal thinker but also someone
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who upholds the court's historic role as a check on the majority impulses of the executive branch and at legislative branch. i hope she will recognize who areweak and to the strong in our society. i hope the jurisprudence stands up to the bullies of all ideological strikes. this leads me to conclude with one more comment on this confirmation process. i was deeply concerned by some statements that were made by, largely democratic when ranking member senator leahy announced he would support judge roberts. although the scales have tipped in a different direction for me, i am deeply admiring of the work an


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